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When Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. meet in an exhibition match Saturday at Staples Center in the main event of a pay-per-view card, things will look normal to the regular boxing viewer.
Neither fighter will wear head gear and there will be a referee, Ray Corona, in the ring with them.
And yes, they’ll throw punches, sometimes hard punches, at each other. That, though, is about where the similarities between this match between boxing royalty and a normal professional bout end.
To start, they’ll be wearing 12-ounce gloves instead of the 10-ounce gloves that heavyweights normally wear. The action will be, in the words of Andy Foster, the executive officer of the California State Athletic Commission, “hard sparring.” The difference will be if there is a knockdown, or a fighter is hurt, the other won’t go to try to finish him off.
Corona is not going to count in the event of knockdowns, Foster said, and will give the downed fighter as much time as is required to make certain he is safe to continue.
“What is my vision of hard sparring? Well, they’ll be working really hard, but when you hurt the guy, you don’t go in to finish him off,” Foster told Yahoo Sports. “To me, that’s what hard sparring looks like. It looks like what you’d see in the gym. That’s what I believe an exhibition should look like. It’s not going to be pitty patter out there. I guarantee that. That’s not what I expect these guys to do. They’re good athletes. I would it expect it to look like what it would look like if nobody was around and you walked in when they were sparring with each other at a gym.”
The fight won’t be scored, though WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has appointed a team of ex-champions to serve as celebrity judges. Former WBC champions Vinny Pazienza, Chad Dawson and Hall of Famer Christy Martin will be the judges. They won’t score rounds 10-9 or 10-8, but will simply pick a winner. They will also not be on site at Staples and will be watching from a remote location.
No score will be announced at the end and both guys’ hands will be raised. They’ll each be given a belt at the end.
Corona, though, will be the key. He will have full latitude to control the bout and can stop it at any time for any reason if he has concerns.
Foster said he expected the bout would be entertaining, but it will be differentiated from a competitive bout in that they aren’t going to do whatever it takes to win.
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